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President signs law against human trafficking

Posted 2/10/2006   Updated 3/13/2006 Email story   Print story

    

2/10/2006 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (USAFENS) -- On Jan. 10, The President of the United States signed into law the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005. This is the latest effort in the U.S. Government’s “Zero Tolerance” policy toward human trafficking. Any employee of the Federal Government faces fines, mandatory restitution, and up to 20 years imprisonment for knowingly taking part in, patronizing, or simply tolerating trafficking networks.

“Human trafficking is an offense against human dignity, a crime in which human beings, many of them teenagers and young children, are bought and sold and often sexually abused by violent criminals,” President George Bush said at the White House before signing the bill. “Our nation is determined to fight and end this modern form of slavery.”

Human trafficking is the illegal practice of procuring human beings for unpaid work in physically abusive settings and locations from which they are not allowed to leave. Trafficking in persons is the third largest criminal activity in the world, after illegal arms and drugs sales.

The act goes hand in hand with Executive Order 13387 signed by the President Oct. 14 2005. Among other changes to the law, the order expands the Uniform Code of Military Justice to specifically criminalize patronizing a prostitute. Patronizing a prostitute is punishable by a Dishonorable Discharge, confinement for 1 year, reduction in grade to E-1 and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

The UCMJ change will mean little difference for the day-to-day lives of U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen, said Maj. Charlotte Liegl-Paul, a military justice attorney with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Prior to the order, the UCMJ already criminalized prostitution and ‘pandering,’ accepting money in exchange for sex; compelling, inducing, enticing or procuring a person to have sex in exchange for money; or receiving money for arranged sex.

Military personnel are subject to UCMJ jurisdiction 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, while on or off duty, while on or off a military installation, and worldwide. However, the majority of U.S. laws do not extend to military dependents and DoD civilians or civilian contractors overseas, making it difficult for the U.S. to enforce rules against trafficking.

However; for U.S. civilians, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, passed in 2000, made serious crimes committed abroad punishable as if they were committed in the U.S. The act essentially ensures that DoD civilians and civilian contractors are governed by U.S. law even when operating in other regions of the world.

The Reauthorization Act of 2005 specifically makes punishable trafficking in persons offenses committed by persons employed by or accompanying the Federal Government outside the U.S.

Bottom line -- even when overseas, you’re still under the jurisdiction of the U.S., said Major Liegl-Paul.

Since many people don’t fully comprehend the magnitude of the human trafficking industry, DoD has established a new training program clarifying what human trafficking is and what the implications are of becoming involved, said Robert Wisher, DoD’s director of advanced distributive learning.

According to Teresa Beasley, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe chief of sexual response and prevention, the computer based training program is already in place here in USAFE. The 30-minute Trafficking in Persons Basic Awareness Training program focuses on the phenomenon, cause and prevention of human trafficking as well as the legal consequences and enforcement.

“This annual training is mandatory for all military members, DoD civilian employees and contractors,” said Ms. Beasley. “Family members are also affected by the changes to the law. However, at this time the training is not accessible by family members. We will rely on the sponsor to pass along the information gained from the training program.”

The overall goal of the training is to change people’s attitudes about prostitution and human trafficking and make them realize the victim’s side of the story, said Robert Wisher, DoD’s director of advanced distributive learning.

“We change attitudes through gripping stories based on actual accounts of what the victims go through,” he said.

DoD is also developing a separate training module for commanders about what to do when incidences of human trafficking are reported and a module for investigators about how to handle the reports, Wisher said.

Human trafficking became an important issue for DoD because of the many overseas military units in countries where human trafficking is rampant, such as Korea, said John Awtrey, directory of law enforcement policy and support for the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

To access the computer based training program long on to https://devweb.usafe.af.mil/ or contact the unit training manager.

Editor’s note: Information for this story was contributed by American Forces Press Service.



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